What is a dental filling?
A dental filling is an artificial substance that restores the shape and healthy function of a tooth that has been damaged by decay. During the procedure, the dentist removes the decayed material in the tooth, cleans the area, and finally fills the cavity with the filling material. It prevents further decay since it closes the spaces that bacteria would use as entry points.
Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings
Fillings made out of composite are the material of choice these days. Actually, they’ve been mainstream for decades. They’re bonded into place which makes them very retentive. Composites come in a variety of colors and shades which make it possible to blend into the tooth. It’s a great way to cosmetically repair damaged teeth.
Amalgram (silver) Fillings
Dentists have been using amalgam fillings to fill the cavities since the previous century. The material that makes amalgam is composed of different metals like tin, copper, mercury, and silver. There’s no question this is a long-lasting material. However, they’ve fallen out of favor as they’re unattractive and some are concerned about mercury content.
Steps in placing composite fillings:
- Decay and/or old filling material is removed.
- Acidic conditioning is applied to the cavity preparation.
- An antiseptic/desensitizer is applied.
- A layer of bonding agent is painted onto the tooth.
- In layers the composite filling material is added until the cavity is filled.
- The surface is adjusted to fit into the bite
- The final surface is polished.
How do cavities happen?
When food particles are left behind on the teeth, oral bacteria feeds on them and forms plaque. Over time, plaque hardens to form tartar, and bacteria release acids that dissolve the strong outer layer of the teeth, called enamel. This creates a hole, or cavity, for oral bacteria to attack the sensitive tissues inside the teeth, and the procedure to seal the hole is called a filling.
Some signs and symptoms are common if you have a cavity that might require a filling:
- The tooth may become sensitive when it encounters cold or hot temperatures or sticky, sour, and sweet foods
- Sharp or throbbing pain might be experienced
- You may feel pain when biting or chewing food
- A dark spot or a hole is visible on your tooth. The gap can even be felt by your tongue.
- During flossing, the affected tooth tears the string
- When eating, food gets stuck in between the teeth
- The tooth may feel rough
- The existing tooth filling may be broken or cracked
- If your tooth is fractured or chipped
How to prevent new cavities:
Contrary to popular opinion, cavities aren’t necessarily the result of eating sugary foods such as chocolate or drinking soda pop. They’re often the result of a failure to maintain health oral hygiene. We recommend keeping a habit of good oral hygiene by regularly brushing your teeth soon afterward with a fluoride toothpaste and clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
You also should also eat a balanced diet, limit between-meal snacks and visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Does dental insurance cover fillings?
Typically, dental insurance plans cover dental filling services after deductibles are met.
How much does a filling cost?
Fillings usually cost $50 to $150 for a single, silver amalgam filling, $90 to $250 for a single, tooth-colored composite filling, $250 to $4,500 for a single, cast-gold or porcelain filling. The average cost range is $100-$150 depending on the material used.
How long does a filling procedure take?
Typically, dental filling procedures take 30-60 minutes depending on your dentist.
Are you in need of fillings? If you think this is the best option for your oral health needs, give us a call today for more information, or to schedule an appointment!